I think about this blog as a pair of floaty wings children use in a swimming pool. A more apt metaphor is my desire to give readers a pair of floaty wings during a wild storm at sea. I realize we will all still take on water but any buoyancy in a storm is an asset!
Cozily Sheltering or Anxiously Cowering?
I look at nature’s reassurance of resiliency as Spring melts the dreary winter landscape into irrationally optimistic daffodils, assertive green leaves, and happy cherry blossoms. How can it be that nature carelessly bursts into bloom as we are filled with cares dreading new problems? Sheltering in place sounds cozy, and enjoyable but that is not the experience of most people right now.
Many of us may feel more like cowering in place fretting about why online groceries aren’t working, worrying about why all our tech seems to be breaking, and stressing about what to do with a sack of beans anyway? We have all these new problems. How do we separate work when work is home? How do we balance home schooling and get our job done? How do we work out the conflict with ourselves and the people we call family that we cannot escape right now?
Solutions and Tools
- Don’t look too far down the road right now. You cannot know exactly what will happen in a month. Look at what you need to do today, tomorrow, and this week. Long range planning right now can be limited to your next week. You cannot prepare for what you cannot know and predict. When we worry too much today about tomorrow we mortgage our current piece of mind to control events we cannot control.
- Grieve your usual routines. Your favorite restaurant, coffee shop, and gym are not there to comfort and support you. You have every right to feel disappointed about that!
- Create new routines; family game night, nightly bath, or family dinner. Humans are creatures that thrive on familiar habits. Before you get up in the morning take a few minutes, close your eyes, and imagine what you could do today that would bring you comfort. Now repeat these habits as your “new” normal.
- As problems come up realize you will more easily feel overwhelmed. Slow down, take one small part of a problem, breathe, and ask for help. Remember a good part of your brain is offline worrying about the virus. We may all end up being like Winnie the Pooh and being a, “bear of very little brain,” for a while so be gentle with yourself.
- Have lunch with the “monsters under your bed.” Write down or discuss with your significant other your worst case scenarios. Things like you’ll never work again, lose your house, catch the virus and die, or the zombies will come to your door to steal your toilet paper! You will be surprised to discover that a fear fully faced is manageable. The worst fears are the ones we play hide and seek with!
- Make a point of breaking out of social isolation via technology. Throw a family party via Skype or Facetime, wave and talk to neighbors while maintaining social distance, and don’t be afraid to look people in the eye when out walking. You won’t catch the virus from eye contact but you will feel calmer and more connected.
Seek Shelter (not just in place)
There are two shelters that this virus cannot take away; the shelter of people we love and the shelter of our relationship with ourselves.
Shelter of others: Let the people you live with be an interpersonal oasis during this chaos and remind you of your priorities. If you are well and they are well and you are all above ground then today is a good day. I think of a book I never read titled, “Love in a Time of Cholera,” and think how relevant that title is to us trying to live high quality lives and relationships right now.
Shelter of yourself: If you’ve never learned to meditate now is a good time. The Transcendental Meditation technique is the one I find most powerful and easiest to continue. Many of their talks have gone online and are worth watching. I’ve used the TM technique since I was 12 and still regularly meditate (61 years old now) 20 minutes morning and evening. I often think while meditating that meditation gives anyone immediate access to a quiet, holy, and peaceful space regardless of what is going on around us. An invaluable gift right now!
May you be well, may you be at peace, may you come out of this crisis better than you went in…